Newswise — Ithaca, NY—Many people have turned to Project FeederWatch as an antidote to troubling times and long winter months. Participation in this citizen-science project surged 33% during the last season and, despite the name, it’s not even necessary to have a feeder. FeederWatch data are used to detect shifts in the numbers and distributions of winter birds in the United States and Canada. At the same time, participants gain new insight into bird activity in their own yard.
The 35th season of FeederWatch begins Saturday, November 13.
"The observations we get about feeder birds have been our bread and butter for decades. We want that flow of information to keep coming because we’ve learned so much," says FeederWatch leader Emma Greig at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "But we’re opening up new possibilities for understanding winter bird movements by adding data from areas without feeders. If you’ve taken any action to attract birds—installed a water feature or put in special native plantings—you can be a FeederWatcher, too.”
FeederWatch participants make periodic two-day counts from November through April and can spend as much or as little time as they like collecting data. Even counting birds once or twice all winter has value.
"Feeding birds is a hugely popular pastime in North America, yet we don’t fully understand the impact of all the supplementary food that we provide," says Greig. "By participating in FeederWatch without a feeder, people can help us create a dataset that will help us better understand the impact of bird feeding. It is extremely important work and FeederWatch is perfectly poised to do it."
If you’re new to watching birds and do want to put up a feeder, check out the many resources on the FeederWatch website, including the food preferences of common feeder birds as well as a free download with information about winter bird feeding (PDF).
Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada. To join the tens of thousands of FeederWatch participants, sign up online at FeederWatch.org. In Canada, contact Birds Canada at (888) 448-2473, toll free or visit the Birds Canada website.
The participation fee is $18 in the U.S. ($15 for Cornell Lab members) or a donation of any amount in Canada. Those making a minimum donation of $50 in Canada will receive a subscription to the Birds Canada magazine, BirdWatch Canada.
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